10 Creative Ways to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Without Being a Complete Hermit
We’ve all heard this personal finance advice: For the price of your daily latte, you could launch your dream business, pay off credit card debt, become a savvy investor or build your savings to astronomical levels.
Sure, we could all be billionaires if not for our caffeine habit. We’ll get right on that.
In the meantime, you sit with stacks of credit card debt, dwindling savings and paychecks that hardly pay the bills.
Lattes aren’t your problem.
How to Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
You need to get creative with your budget, especially if you’re ever going to wring out enough to pay off debt and work toward your new life as a billionaire.
Here are some creative ways to pay off your credit card debt.
1. Figure Out Exactly What You Owe
Need a longer look at that debt? Credit Sesame can help you figure it out.
Credit Sesame’s “credit report card” acts like your favorite teacher from high school.
It gives you a free credit score, plus lays out your credit history, so you can see exactly how much money you owe and to whom. It even tells you your monthly payments and interest rate, as well as which debts are in collections.
The app lets you keep track of your credit score and recommends ways to improve it.
For example, it might recommend a mortgage lender, credit card or debt refinancing based on your needs and chances of being approved.
Small business owner Kenneth Bain raised his credit score 234 points using Credit Sesame. He said it became like a game, and he wanted to achieve the high score.
“I literally checked my credit every day, two to three times a day,” he told us. “I remember the day I logged on and saw 721 … And (I thought), ‘Yes, finally! My hard work paid off.’”
2. Negotiate Your Bills Down
We all know you can negotiate the price of a car, but did you know you can negotiate your utility bills?
Consider Trim, a bot that works through Facebook Messenger or your text messages.
Trim is basically a free financial assistant. (Yeah, this is the best friend you’ve been looking for.)
Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to access a dashboard within your Messenger or text conversation with Trim. For example, you’ll see options to:
- Negotiate your Comcast (or other provider) bill down to a lower price.
- View your spending habits.
- Sift through your subscription services to cancel the ones you forgot about or don’t need (about that gym membership…).
Trim also shows your account balance and recent transactions. Want to know how much you spent at Starbucks last month so you can budget better? Just ask the bot.
3. Consolidate Debt
A lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is consumer financial technology platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Even’s platform can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
4. Share Your Purchase History
This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history with them. And they’ll pay you for every month you share!
When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information, including the order date, product title, category, ISBN number, release date, condition, seller, list price per unit, quantity and other details.
Before you jump in, you need to know:
- This will be a waste of time if you don’t shop on Amazon.
- You must be 18 and live in the U.S.
All good? To earn your first gift card today:
- Sign up, and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
- Open the app and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $3 via email within 48 hours.
- Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month.
Your information is securely collected by The Harris Poll, a trusted market research company for more than 20 years. Additionally, ShopTracker removes your name, shipping address and any personal payment information before reporting your purchase history.
5. Earn Extra Income — Without Extra Time
One of the best ways to pay off credit card debt is to earn more money. Easier said than done, right?
Few people have the luxury of adding another job to their daily schedule, so where does the extra come from? We recommend looking for ways to boost your income passively that won’t add hours to your workday.
Here are a few of our favorite ways:
- Invest without doing anything. An app called Acorns will automatically round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the digital change.
- Share your opinion via paid online surveys. Swagbucks is one of the largest legitimate paid survey sites out there. This can be a smart way to make your TV-watching time profitable. If you’d like more details, review our beginner’s guide here.
- An app called Paribus helps gets you money back for your online purchases at stores like Target, Walmart, Old Navy and more — but you have to keep your email receipts. Just connect your bank account and Paribus does the rest for you.
- InboxDollars lets you actually get paid to watch videos online. The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. The shows are sponsored by brands that need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
6. Sell Your Extra Stuff
If you haven’t moved or cleaned out your closets recently, you probably have some stuff sitting around you don’t need.
Selling it off could give you an influx of cash to make progress on your debt.
Here are some of our favorite websites to sell anything in your house:
- letgo: You can sell almost anything on this app.
- Bookscouter: Use this site to sell your old books.
- Decluttr: This site will pay you for your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, gaming consoles and other electronics. (Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!)
7. Automate Your Savings
Once you pay off credit card debt, the last thing you want to do is rack it up again. An emergency savings fund can help protect you from that possibility.
“Build an emergency fund” is another of those common pieces of personal finance advice you’ve probably heard and hate. (Even we recommend it.)
Savings seems impossible when you think about it. So start saving without thinking about it.
One sneaky trick to get yourself to save is an app like Stash.
This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. (The first month is free.)
Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money.
But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
Plus, you get a $5 bonus when you make your first investment!
8. Earn Cash Back on Your Everyday Expenses
Now that we know you’ve cut your spending down to the last latte, how can we possibly talk about spending even less?
There’s one more step you can take to cut your everyday expenses — earn cash back for them.
Follow our ultimate guide to deal stacking to get the best deal on everything you buy — so good, sometimes the store will pay you to buy it.
Feed all these savings toward paying off credit card debt to chip away at it faster.
9. Find Free Entertainment
Let’s face it: Having fun can cost a lot of money. You could easily drop thousands on entertainment each year if you had the cash to spare.
When you don’t have the cash, you can still have fun.
Even better, you might be able to get paid to enjoy movies, bowling, amusement parks, water parks, weekend getaways and more.
You can do it through mystery shopping. Here’s a list of our favorite companies to get you started.
10. Trick Yourself Into Using Your Credit Card Like a Debit Card
Next time you’re at the checkout counter to make a purchase, you could use either a credit card or a debit card. Either choice has pros and cons.
Many credit cards offer perks like cash back or travel rewards, but they also make it easy to rack up debt. If you don’t pay off your balance every month, you’ll wind up paying a lot of interest. And if you miss a payment, there are late fees.
Debit cards don’t usually offer cool rewards, but they won’t get you mired in debt either. It’s pay-as-you-go spending. The debit card is linked to your checking account, and you can’t spend money you don’t have.
Wouldn’t it be great to combine the best of both worlds? Now you can.
A new app called Debitize basically turns your credit card into a debit card, for free. With it, you can connect any credit card to a checking account.
Whenever you swipe your credit card, Debitize pulls the same amount of cash from your bank account. It stores the cash for you until it’s time to pay your credit card bill. Then it pays that bill for you a week before the due date.
The best of both worlds: You can build credit and get those sweet credit card perks, and also prevent yourself from running up unmanageable debt.